The Paschall Jazz Trio at Redwood Studio

On Friday, McKenzie Smith (of Midlake) hosted a crowd of nearly 40 people at Redwood Studio for a very special occasion. Smith invited the Paschall Jazz Trio to play and record an intimate live set unlike the sets Paschall patrons are used to. The night’s lineup included Stefan Karlsson on piano, Mike Luzecky on upright bass, Matt Young on drums, and featured special guest Brian Horton on saxophone.

Redwood Studio—which is situated in Smith’s modest backyard—made the perfect setting for the night’s festivities. Guests were treated to outdoor seating, a small fire, and an open bar (courtesy of Smith and his wife, Felicia) prior to the beginning of the performance. At 8:00 PM, guests made their way into the studio itself. The small space required that attendees get cozy with one another no matter where they sat or stood, but the studio never felt cramped; in fact, sharing the room made the evening feel more communal than it might have otherwise.

Once recording began, the trio took their places and began to play. The evening’s repertoire included both jazz standards and some of the trio’s originals. Karlsson was beautifully smooth on the piano, and even partook in some quiet scat singing that was almost inaudible above the rest of the arrangement. Young managed to use his percussion to maintain a loose structure within each piece while simultaneously encouraging fluidity and improvisation. Luzecky’s bass work was clean, melodic, and quietly hypnotic (Luzecky himself occasionally looked like he might have gotten lost in a trance, or at least a particularly good groove). Horton joined the trio for the fourth song of the evening and stunned the crowd with both his skill, tone, and lung capacity—we didn’t know a note could be held that long, and we were thoroughly impressed.

Despite the sophisticated nature of the music, the evening was actually quite casual and laid-back. After the trio finished their first standard, Smith asked the crowd to think of the event not as a concert, but as a set at a jazz club: clapping, cheering, and general vocal approval from the crowd were encouraged, and the audience was happy to oblige. The group’s standards were impressively tight and technical, but we especially enjoyed the trio’s originals, which felt slightly more melodic and Latin-influenced. Toward the end of one song, each musician took a slow decrescendo into silence, leaving only Luzecky’s quiet plucking behind. This proved to be the quietest moment in the set, and when everyone else joined back in, the audience’s cheers made for one of the loudest moments in turn.

The trio recorded two sets during the evening, which added up to over two impressive hours of playing. A brief 25-minute intermission was observed, during which guests refilled their drinks and musicians were free to chat and mingle. By the end of the night, the trio's work was all recorded and ready to be polished for distribution. Every attendee will soon receive a copy of the live set as a memento from the evening.

The event was a lovely departure from typical raucous Friday night partying—we hope this won’t be the last time the Smiths decide to bring some Denton music magic into their tranquil backyard studio.

Header image design by Jason Lee